June 30, 2013

Same-sex marriage and the church

One of the fundamental themes in the apologetics of Francis A. Schaeffer is the way that radical new ideas influence society. In his earliest books, such as Escape from Reason, he argues that as a general rule, ideas begin in the academy (particularly in the humanities, such as philosophy), then work their way out into the arts and music, and spread into the general public. Finally, they come into the church.

This is the stage that has now been reached on the gay-rights front, particularly on the issue of same-sex marriage and benefits. Even 20 years ago, the idea of two men or two women actually marrying would have been practically unthinkable. Now, it is generally accepted by nearly everyone that same-sex marriage is a Good Thing, while opposing it is "homophobic." Last week's U.S. Supreme Court decisions concerning the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8 essentially repudiated the traditional view of marriage as backwards and bigoted. By contrast, the time between the Emancipation Proclamation and the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which prohibited discrimination based upon skin colour) was just over a century. And that is for a cause that virtually all rational people today accept as a great good! The rapidity with which same-sex rights have been accepted is almost preternatural. (In my opinion, this is primarily due to a full-court press by the primary agenda-setters in the public mind—the media and the entertainment industry, who speak with a nearly unanimous voice in favour of gay rights, something that would not necessarily have been true for previous generations.)

Now, advocacy for same-sex marriages is finding its way into the churches. I don't mean merely the liberal churches, such as the United Church of Canada or the Episcopal Church, where no leftist cause célèbre ever went uncelebrated. We would expect that kind of thing from institutions who abandoned the faith for social activism ages ago. I mean evangelical churches, where the authority of God's word is still supposedly held in high regard. The official position of my own church, for example, is that marriage is an exclusive covenant relationship between one man and one woman. It is enshrined in the statement of faith. Nonetheless, I know of a handful of people within the church who are no longer convinced that the bible teaches this. Maybe some of them never were truly convinced.

For anyone who claims to believe in the authority of Scripture, this is simply untenable.

June 25, 2013

Richard Matheson (1926-2013)

I can't believe that it's been seven years since I first discovered the fiction of Richard Matheson, via the short story collection Duel (which I reviewed at the time). As I said back then:

Matheson seems to be almost unheard of these days, but in addition to "Duel," many of his novels have been adapted for film: A Stir of Echoes, What Dreams May Come, and The Shrinking Man, to name three. After reading Duel, I'm convinced to try out some of his longer fiction. But if you're looking for a good collection of tight short stories by an author you probably haven't read before, you can't go wrong with this book.

Richard Matheson passed away on Sunday at the age of 97.

His influence is arguably out of proportion to his name recognition, but if you've watched a lot of science-fiction or horror television or movies, you've probably seen something he wrote, which includes:

  • the screenplay for Duel, Stephen Spielberg's first feature-length film (and the short story on which it was based);
  • the classic Twilight Zone episodes "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" and "Little Girl Lost," as well as the episode "Steel" based on his short story of the same name (as was the 2011 movie Real Steel starring Hugh Jackman); and
  • the novel I am Legend, which has been adapted three times for the movies, as The Last Man on Earth (1964) starring Vincent Price, The Omega Man (1971) starring Charlton Heston, and I am Legend (2007), starring Will Smith;

Science fiction and horror literature has lost another of its greatest authors. The Golden Age continues to slowly diminish.

June 23, 2013

Superman Sunday: I'm flying north again

And we're back! It's been a long time since we did Superman Saturday (or Sunday), but with the recent release of Man of Steel, I felt sufficiently inspired to return to the series. Which, despite the dearth of posting, is actually pretty fun. (And I haven't seen the movie yet, BTW.)

We pick up the series with a new adventure. Indians! Lost explorers! Mystical powers! Treasure! Wait, have we seen this one before?

June 08, 2013

Death to Davros!

Whenever the current season of Doctor Who ends, I always feel a kind of withdrawal. I blame it on the peculiarities of British television scheduling: a long mid-season hiatus coupled with a smaller number of episodes per season.

Fortunately, there's no shortage of Doctor Who to be had in the meantime—the program has, after all, been broadcast (on and off) since 1963. So this year I've been feeding my hunger pangs with the old Fourth Doctor episodes, broadcast 1974–81. It's often said that a Doctor Who fan's favourite Doctor is always the first one they saw, and that's certainly true in my case (though David Tennant and Matt Smith did give Baker a run for his money!). I first discovered Doctor Who on Sunday afternoons on PBS, where the producers edited the episodes of each serial into a single program. Later, the same PBS station moved the Doctor to Saturday late-night. In the spirit of Serial Saturdays, watching Doctor Who was my weekend ritual from the age of about 13 to 20.